Visas for China get simplified
Updated: 2013-09-02 11:02
By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)
Life may just have gotten a bit simpler for Americans planning a trip to China, after a new set of visa categories took effect on Sunday.
"The new categories aim to streamline management while facilitating applications," said Wu Yi, head of the visa office at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
"In recent years, we have seen a blockbuster increase in the number of Americans applying for China visas with more and more diversified purposes," he said.
On Thursday, the consulate held a brief meeting for local travel agents and Chinese American community leaders to explain the latest changes to Chinese visas.
Wu said that his office would place as high a value on a "serving spirit" as on "management responsibility" in implementing the new regulations.
To that end, he explained, they would accept both old and new visa application forms throughout the transitional period.
The Exit and Entry Administration Law of China, was adopted on June 30, 2012, and came into force July1, 2013.
Laws and regulations covering foreigners applying for visas to China include four new visa categories that came into effect Sept 1.
The prominent additions include a new "Q" category visa for Americans who visit their Chinese family members in China.
"The Q visa holders will find their staying period in China could be more than 180 days and the visa might be valid up to five years," Wu said.
Overseas experts who enrolled in China's national "1,000-Talent Program" would have a new "R" category visa as of Sept 1. That program aims to recruit talented professionals worldwide to help China achieve its goal of becoming more innovation-oriented.
"I think the new visa regulations will make it easier for applicants to determine the correct visa to apply for," said Steven Hopkins, managing director of Travel Document Systems, a San Francisco-based company that helps travelers get expedited visa and passport processing.
"The influx of Americans traveling to China helps encourage more Chinese to visit the US," he said.
Rebecca Davis, an associate at G3 Visas & Passports Inc, said that her company processes more visa applications for China than for any other country in the world.
"Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of US citizens visiting China for business and tourism," she said. "We anticipate processing 20 percent more Chinese visas in 2013 than 2012."
She pointed out the biggest change in the new visa application form is that applicants must now list the days that they will stay in each hotel or residence in China.
"It is very convenient that all the Chinese consulates in the US will now use the same application form.Previously, the consulate in New York had a different form, and we had problems with travelers filling out the wrong application," she said.
"It is also helpful that, with the addition of a few extra questions to the visa application, the need for the supplemental application for non-US citizens and applicants for work or student visas has been eliminated. Now all applicants only have to fill out one form."
(China Daily USA 09/02/2013 page1)